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Richmond Ironclads at Trent's Reach
      Photo City Point
Detail taken from Library of Congress photo: LC-DIG-cwpb-01752

The Weak Link: City Point, James River
(now Hopewell)

After Grant shifted to City Point, he struck at Richmondís supply lines by attacking the rail hub of Petersburg, forcing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to defend that city as well. While Lee stretched his dwindling resources, a seemingly endless chain of U.S. cargo ships sailed up the James River to the wharves around City Point, unloading supplies for the Union forces besieging the Confederate capital. Grant held Lee in an unbreakable death grip.
   Except . . . to reach Grant, every U.S. soldier and bullet had to be shipped up the river from Union-controlled Hampton Roads, a voyage of about 70 miles through contested territory. All of Grantís overwhelming force thus dangled from the thread of the James. Cutting that threadócutting off the City Point docksócould force Grant to leave the gates of Richmond.
   Upriver, inside the withering Confederacy, three Richmond ironclads awaited their chance to strike.
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